Culinary Buzz: Bellegarde Bakery, Bywater American Bistro and Gris Gris
EDIT NOTE: Due to impending weather, Bellegarde has postponed their retail opening! (7/11/19, 11:50 a.m)
I avoid bread because I prefer carbs that come in a glass, Chateau Neuf du Pape being my fave of the sort. That said, I find Bellegarde Bakery’s Epi loaf to be simple irresistible. It is a sturdy baguette off of which crisp little “petals” float. The petals are easily pulled off and they are the perfect two-bite vehicle for a slather of room-temperature triple crème cheese, such as Saint Andre. Such a bite pairs perfectly with that glass of Chateau Neuf…
It is wickedly easy to just keep plucking and slathering through an entire Epi loaf because they are such perfect little bites. It’s kind of like eating finger sandwiches: Before you know it you have eaten the equivalent of three entire sandwiches.
My only salvation has been the company I share in my passion for the Epi loaf, ensuring that my neighborhood Rouses’ is often out of them by the end of the day, when I do most of my shopping for household provisions.
That salvation will end on Saturday when Bellegarde Bakery opens its first retail location, a 3,200- square-foot bakery (8300 Apple St., 827-0008, bellegardebakery.com) probably ensuring unfettered access to all the Epi loaves I can consume and an expanded waistline to show for it. What’s worse for me, in addition to Bellegard staples, like the Epi, walk-in customers will have the opportunity to purchase freshly baked breads available only in-store, freshly-milled flour and heirloom grits, custom-blended drip coffee from Congregation Coffee, and branded merchandise. The menu will continue to expand throughout 2019 with additional pastry, pizza, pasta and bread options.
I am doomed.
On opening day the bakery will be open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. to host a public open house from 3-5 p.m., giving guests the opportunity to receive a behind-the-scenes tour of the bakery and meet with its team of talented bakers. The first 50 customers to visit Bellegard on opening day will receive a free loaf of Country Bread, and all customers will receive a free Bellegarde tote bag with purchase (while supplies last). Bellegarde will also continue hosting its popular baking classes in the new location. These classes, open to both professional and home bakers, are taught by local and national leaders in the baking and cooking industry.
Also on Saturday, the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center (11000 Lake Forest Blvd., 861-2537, audubonnatureinstitute.org) will host a new community market to be held the second Saturday of each month in hope that the Second Saturday Community Market will increase access to fresh produce, cooking classes, and gardening demonstrations for New Orleans East residents and expand opportunities for local artisans and vendors. This Saturday’s market will run from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. with the promise of produce, seafood, sweets, made-to-order smoothies, handmade aromatics, community services, and more.
On Sunday, from 8-10 p.m. Bywater American Bistro (BABs, in the Rice Mill Lofts at 2900 Chartres St., 605-3827, bywateramericanbistro.com) will welcome Lucinda Weed, brand ambassador for St. Germain, who will be serving up low-proof seasonal creations such as herbal aperitifs inspired by fresh, local flavors, featuring St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur.
Like the Epi loaf and Chateau Neuf, I have a thing for St. Germaine. Uh-oh.
Weed’s selections will include Peaches and Dreams (St.Germain, Casadores Blanco, Louisiana peach juice, and fresh squeezed lemon, topped with Fevertree aromatic tonic and garnished with tarragon); Drink Your Vegetables (St. Germain, Bombay Sapphire, fresh cucumber juice, lime and Verjus, garnished with basil leaf0; and the St. Germain Spritz (St. Germain, dry sparkling wine and soda water served with a lemon twist).
A voyeur, I like to people watch. My top spot for doing so is the deep, gracious balcony off of the second floor of the triangular-shaped building that houses Gris Gris (1800 Magazine St., 272-024, grisgrisnola.com). Over the course of the almost-year the restaurant has been open I have worked my way through most of the menu, enjoying every bite. This week Chef Eric Cook reset the button for me with new craft cocktails and new menu items. Check this out: Creole tomato shrimp remoulade (Gulf shrimp, Creole tomatoes, and Creole-style remoulade -this is even Eat Fit NOLA approved and, hence, guilt free); Grilled chicken luncheon sandwich (grilled chicken breast, Crystal honey butter, tomatoes, Boston lettuce on Texas toast); and Open-Faced luncheon Pot Roast Sandwich (roast beef debris, mashed potatoes and brown gravy on two BIG slices of Texas toast). New cocktail additions include: Kongo Priestess (FRIS Vodka, house made Jasmine Mint Syrup, fresh lemon, topped with soda); Madame Lalin (gin, house-made rose syrup, lemon, finished with sparkling wine-throughout July, $1 from each sold benefits the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation); Tequila Mambo (El Jimador, lemon, honey, orange curacao, Gris Gris cayenne liquor, Angostora bitters); and St. John Swizzle (gold rum, fresh lime, Peychaud’s bitters, Falernum, finished with soda.
Gris Gris also has an updated beer and wine list. Meet me on the balcony this weekend.
Have a great weekend, everyone. Use it to celebrate the people and the community you love.